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Praise the Lord

Isaiah 9:6 -“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

I was listening to one of my favorite artist yesterday, Crowder. His music is very raw and really hits home to me. He has a song called, “Praise the Lord.” When you first hear the lyrics, they sound almost disrespectful, but if you keep listening, you hear the real message. Here is the gist of it.

How do you see Jesus? Do you see Him as a magic 8-ball that you occasionally ask a question to? Do you use Jesus as a gun, shooting down thoughts and feelings that are different from your own? Do you swing Him like a hammer, forcing your ideas and beliefs upon someone else? Do you keep Him under the steeple or in the Book? Or do you use Him as a prescription – only when something is wrong?

That is not Who Jesus is. That is not His purpose or His plan for you. Praise the Lord.

Sometimes we think that His love is more of a river rather than an ocean. Narrow and wide, deep and shallow, we fear that it will run away. But His love is more of an ocean that is vast and deep and constant. Others might think of His love as a song, wrapped up with a neat beginning and ending. But His love is more like a symphony that is filled with all kinds of notes and instruments that is woven together to create the most beautiful melody.

We try to make God’s love so difficult, so challenging. But Jesus is way more than we can ever imagine if we just let Him love us and be Who He is supposed to be in our life.

When we consider Jesus and who He should be in our life, we need to remember that He is endless – He always has been. I don’t think we can ever truly grasp it. It is a mystery that will one day be revealed when we are with Him. But the decision to be with Him needs to be a joyful choice, not a fearful leap. 

I think that too often we try to put Jesus in our neat little box or use Him as a weapon to drive fear and coercion into people. That’s not Who He is. Jesus isn’t a genie in a lamp or a lightening bolt throwing being or a fair weather friend. No, Jesus is so much more than that – Praise the Lord.

Jesus is The Leader. Jesus is Wonderful. Jesus is The caring Counselor. Jesus is The Mighty God. Jesus is My Everlasting Father. Jesus is The Prince of Peace. Praise the Lord.

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Sleeping through the storm

Luke 8:22-25 – “Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.”

We just went through a hurricane. Not my idea of a good time, I’ll tell you. As we laid in the closet under the stairs while the front and back of the eye of the storm went over our house, my kids slept. The electricity had gone out which caused the fan to go off which woke me up to the raging wind. It howled and screamed and thrashed against the front of our house. I’m laying in the closet praying, “Please God, keep the roof on my house and my friends and family safe” while my children are sleeping. Sleeping! I was glad though. I was in a state enough without having to deal with them freaking out.

While I was out and about yesterday working, I heard the same thing from many of my clients – they slept through the hurricane! What?! How can that be? They went to bed Sunday night and knew nothing had happened until they woke up Monday morning. 

My grandma always said, “The Good Lord’s gonna gitcha when He wants ya whether you’re hidin’ or not.” Faith. Faith that He is in control and we have nothing to fear. I experienced a great deal of fear last week, especially Friday. Friday was tough for me. I believe the majority of it was the uncertainty. We had no idea where the hurricane would hit and how bad it would be. The Holy Spirit had to keep whispering to me – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) He had to say it multiple times because I was having a hard time getting my heart and mind to listen. Faith.  Faith that He is in control.

Now, I’m not certain that all of my clients have that sort of faith in their lives. I’m working on that. But I do know that God used their…faith, or lack of hearing, to remind me that I have nothing to fear, even in a hurricane. It is about letting go and letting God. And that, my friend, is tough. I like to be in control of things going on in my life. I like to know when, where and how things are going to go before I step into it. But faith reminds me that sometimes I won’t know all the details. Faith reminds me that sometimes I need to sleep during the storm. I can’t control it. I can’t affect the outcome of it. I can only prepare and pray. 

Prepare and pray. Maybe that should be my new motto. Isn’t that all God really wants us to do? Second Timothy says He gave us a “sound mind” – the ability to know when to prepare and how to prepare. We know that “power” is from God alone. And we know that “love” should cover everything we do. And when we have that power, love and sound mind, we can sleep through the storm. Isn’t that why Jesus slept in the boat during the storm? He had all those things in abundance. 

So the next time you find yourself in a storm, whether figuratively or literally, have faith. Prepare and pray. Allow God to take the fear the devil attempts to plant in your heart and turn it into power, love and a sound mind. And sleep through the storm.

Transforming vs. Conforming

Romans 12:2- “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

I enjoy cooking. I enjoy taking parts and pieces and creating something that my family and friends can enjoy. There is a sense of satisfaction in hearing your loved ones make those yummy noises. 

I also enjoy sewing, when I get the chance. Creating something wonderful out of essentially nothing is very fulfilling. Not too long ago, I took several feet of fabric and made gigantic bean bags for the teen room at church. I love walking by the room and seeing our young people lounging in their room, just enjoying the peace.

So what does sewing and cooking have to do with Romans 12:2? When one cooks and/or sews, they are transforming something. They are taking a raw material and making it into something new and useable. Now, the alternative to cooking and sewing is going out and buying it. That’s what the rest of the world does, right? Those bean bags I made would have cost several hundreds of dollars to purchase.  I made two for approximately $200. Going out to eat is fun sometimes, but man, it is expensive for a family of four! Right now, my husband is making beef jerky. He is transforming ground beef into jerky for us all to enjoy. And trust me, it is way cheaper than the stuff you get at the store, and much better tasting too.

When you transform raw materials into something different, it takes work and effort. It takes time and dedication. Going out and buying it would be a lot easier. But you save money by doing it yourself and you get a real sense of satisfaction in a job well done.

Our spiritual life is no different. We are called to be “transformed by the renewing of our mind” on a daily basis. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes time. It takes dedication. But we don’t have to be concerned with transforming ourself. No, God is the One who does all the transforming. We just need to be willing subjects to His transformation.

The other option is conforming. Everyday there are people who wake up and live like everyone else around them – and they “went to church yesterday.” Some people are afraid of transformation. It might make them different. People might think they are weird. It is much easier to be like everyone else.

The transformed individual is unique. This person is ready and willing to make the necessary choices to follow Christ. They know the path will be a challenge. They know the way will be hard. But they know that transformation to being more and more like Christ is within His “good, and acceptable, and perfect will”.

So today, you have a choice to make – will you allow God to transform you or will you just be conformed to the world one more day? No time like the present. Make the change today.

Proclaiming on purposeĀ 

Isaiah 55:11 – “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

It has been revival week this week. And man, have we been challenged! 

In my heart and mind, our speaker has been really focusing on sharing the Gospel with others. God is really wanting to get that ball rolling. 

I fail at this. I try to live my life so that others will see Him. I read my Bible trying to listen to what He says. I pray and talk to Him about so many things. But I don’t share Him with others like I’m supposed to. And I’ve touched on this before – it is because of fear. I know that if I would just share Him one time, the next time would be easier. It’s just taking that first step. 

I don’t know what I’m afraid of – God said that His word would not return void. He can use all of my bumbling and fear and turn it into something marvelous if I would just take the first step. 

Look at moving day – you plan for it, you prepare for it, you psyche yourself up for it and then you have to do it. There is no choice when the van arrives – you have to do it. 

Sometimes I wish sharing the Gospel was like that – when the opportunity arises, you just have to do it, there’s no way to get out of it. But it’s not. You have to chose to proclaim Him. You have to do it on purpose. 

We have been encouraged this week to talk to the person at the gas pump about Jesus. Holy man! That scares me like nothing else! There can be some creepy people at the gas pump. And we hear all about weirdos that say and do things that are questionable. Want more excuses? I have a bucket full of them. But being “creepy” and a “weirdo” is my perception of them. God sees someone who needs Him. And God sees me needing to be obedient. 

Like everything else, it is a choice. It is a choice to be obedient. It is a choice to take that first scary step. It is a choice to proclaim on purpose. It is a choice to see others like Jesus sees them. 

Proclaiming on purpose. It is a challenge we all need to accept in our life. This world has loads of people needing to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. They are hurting and scared and needing Someone to hold onto. They need Jesus. They need me to proclaim Him on purpose. 

Revisit – Kryptonite

Hope you enjoy this revisit from January 29,2013!

Proverbs 16:6 – “Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.”
Do you ever stop and think about what all Jesus really did for you? I mean really think about it? It is hard for me to do that because it makes me want to cry. I want to cry not only for His suffering and shame but for my lack of continual acknowledgement.
It was His love and faithfulness that has brought me to where I am, nothing of my own doing. His sacrifice covers it all. It gives me the opportunity to stand before the Father spotless.
But do we really stand? My pride may cause me to stand but in reality we should be on our faces before God. I mean, this is God we are talking about here – Creator of the universe, Knower of ALL things! Hello! Not Someone to quibble with!
I think our society has lost touch with a healthy fear of things. We think we are invincible – modern day Superman. Even Superman had his fears – kryptonite. But it was a healthy fear.
We are told here in Psalm that the “fear of the LORD” helps one to “avoid evil.” What does it mean to “fear” The Lord? In my life, it means that my deep love and respect for Him make me want to do my best for Him and not hurt His feelings by doing something wrong. I don’t want to disappoint Him. If I were perfect, I wouldn’t have a problem doing this. However, when my sin creeps into the situation and I forget all that He has done for me, his “love and faithfulness” bring me back around and set my feet on solid ground.
So today, princess, take some time and analyze your level of “fear of the LORD”. If things are lacking, run to His “love and faithfulness” and claim the promise of atonement and your place on solid ground.

A Whole New Level of Peace

Isaiah 32:16-17 – “Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.”

My son left Monday for a 10 day trip to the United Kingdom to play soccer with his team. We took him to the airport and left him in the hands of his coach and several parents. 

And I’m not worried. I’m grateful. 

Now, true, I didn’t sleep much Monday night knowing that he was flying across the ocean, but deep down, I knew he would be fine. 

This whole experience has been interesting to say the least. I have learned a whole new level of trust and peace. I have let my 14 year old son go to a foreign country without me. People would look at me like I’m crazy when I told them he was going. 

“How can you let him go without you?” “Aren’t you worried something could happen to him?”

My answer is this – He is an amazing young man. I trust him to make good choices. And if the Lord wants him, He can get him just as easily at home as He can in the UK. My son knows Jesus Christ as his Savior. He loves and follows Him. He trusts Him. 

New level of peace and assurance. 

This is what God wants – us to be continually growing. He wants us to stretch our limits. He wants us to trust Him more and more. He wants us to find our assurances in Him. He wants us to depend upon Him and not upon ourself. 

What I am feeling now is prayerful. I’m not necessarily worried; I’m just feeling the need for constant communication on behalf of my son. I pray for his safety. I pray that he will have an amazing time. I pray that he will soak in all the knowledge and experience that he can. But most of all, I pray that he will be the example of Jesus that he needs to be for the boys around him. 

School is just around the corner. For some, this is a really big deal. This is a super challenge. For some parents, they need a new level of trust in Jesus and in their children. We need to pray for all those involved. Our children are bombarded with yuck on a daily basis. They need peace. They need assurances. Jesus can offer them both. Let’s begin praying for these kids and these parents and these teachers and these administrators. Let’s pray that they find a whole new level of peace. 

Lessons in failure

Psalm 119:71 – “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”

Losing is tough at my house. My son had a soccer tournament this weekend. On Saturday, his team had to win their second game in order to advance to the final game. They lost. And it was a tough loss too. They were a better team. However, his team did not get to play all of its players for one reason or another. My son didn’t play. He had a case of shin splints. It was tough. It was tough for him. It was tough for us as his parents. And it was tough for the coach.

But the coach had a reason for not playing his better players and winning the game. The boys needed a lesson, a really hard lesson. They needed to learn to trust one another and respect one another, no matter what. They needed to play their position and do what they knew was right, even when things were rough.

As a parent, it is difficult for me to watch my child fail. I dislike seeing him lose. But as a parent, I have to let him fail in order to watch him succeed. You see, they played much better at the next game. They were more of a team – not perfect, granted, but better. They helped each other out instead of tearing each other down. It may not have been perfect and pretty, truly, not much that a teenage boy does is perfect and pretty, but it was a win, nonetheless.

Our Heavenly Father has to watch us fail sometimes in order to teach us a lesson. I’m sure that it is harder on Him to watch me fail than it is on me to watch my child fail. As hard as it is for me to comprehend, He loves me more than I love my child, my spouse or any other person on this earth. But He knows that in order for me to grow and become more and more like Him, sometimes I have to fail.

Failure can teach us some great lessons if we look for them. Sometimes when we fail, all we can see is the failure. That’s when God steps in and shines the light on the lesson. We need that lesson. We need to remember that He is not letting us fail because He doesn’t care. On the contrary, He allows us to fail because He loves us so much. He wants to see us learn. He wants to see us grow. He wants to see us be successful in His plan.

So this week, when failure looks you straight in the eye, say, “Oh dear friend, failure, what have you to teach me today?”